Garnishing Money to Pay for a Judgment - Self Help
The following information will take you through the steps necessary in a garnishment proceeding to collect money on a judgment.
Statutes and Court Rules
Statutes and court rules on garnishing money to enforce a money judgment are MCL 600.4001 et seq., 600.6201 et seq., and MCR 3.101.
Using Court Forms
Court forms are available for use in proceedings for garnishment. These forms follow the procedures stated in the Michigan Compiled Laws and Michigan Court Rules and can be used without the assistance of an attorney. Instructions for completing some of the garnishment forms is available on this website.
When completing a form online, you must print the number of copies you will need for filing with the court and serving on the parties. See the upper right-hand corner of each form for this information. If you do not provide the court with the correct number of copies, the court might reject the form for nonconformance under the authority of Michigan Court Rule 8.119(C). Unless specifically required by court rule or statute, the court is not responsible for making copies of forms for you.
Filing a Request for Garnishment
You must wait 21 days after your judgment was signed before you can get a garnishment. There are two types of garnishment: 1) periodic, and 2) nonperiodic.
A periodic writ of garnishment is used to garnish the defendant's wages, rent payments, land contract payments, or other debt that is paid to the defendant on a periodic basis. Provided it is served on the garnishee defendant within 182 days after it is issued, a periodic garnishment is valid until the judgment, interest, and costs are paid off.
A nonperiodic writ of garnishment is used to garnish the defendant's bank account (except for wages that are deposited in the account) or other property. Once money has been garnished under the nonperiodic writ, the writ is no longer valid. If there is a remaining balance on the judgment, you must get another writ to collect more money.
An income tax refund garnishment is used to garnish the defendant's Michigan income tax refund. Once money has been garnished under the income tax refund writ, the writ is no longer valid. If there is a remaining balance on the judgment, you must get another writ to collect more money. There is no authority to garnish federal or city income tax refunds.
Fill in the form using the instructions. The garnishee is the person or business who has control or possession of the defendant's money. After you complete the request, you must file it with the court that entered your judgment. The filing fee is $15.00.
Serving the Order for Garnishment
The court will issue the order (also called a writ) by signing the form. The Request and Writ must be served on the garnishee along with the Garnishee Disclosure, form MC 14. If the garnishment is for periodic payments, include a $35.00 disclosure fee with the forms. If the garnishment is for nonperiodic payments, include a $1.00 disclosure fee with the forms. If the garnishment is for income tax refund, include a $6.00 disclosure fee. The cost of serving the Writ varies. See general information on serving court papers.
A garnishee is someone who has control over some or all of the money that is paid to a defendant in a garnishment proceeding. When a writ of garnishment is issued, the garnishee is named in the order and is being ordered to give the plaintiff all or part of the defendant's money that the garnishee controls.
If someone is named in a writ of garnishment as a garnishee, they must provide information to the court and the parties about any money of the defendant's that they control. This is called "disclosure." There are a number of ways to have control over the defendant's money. Some of the more common examples are: 1) as an employer, the garnishee has control over the defendant's paycheck; 2) as a bank or other financial institution, the garnishee has control of the defendant's accounts; 3) as a tenant, the garnishee has control of the defendant's income that comes from payment of rent; or 4) as the Department of Treasury, the garnishee has control of the defendant's income tax refund.
To make a disclosure, the garnishee must complete the Garnishee Disclosure, form MC 14, and mail it to the court and the parties within 14 days after receiving the writ of garnishment. If the garnishee fails to disclose within the time limit, the court can take action against the garnishee and the garnishee may be ordered to pay the full amount owed on the judgment as stated in the writ of garnishment.
If the garnishee is indebted to the defendant, the garnishee must begin withholding money after disclosure has been made. Withholding must be made according to court rule. See the garnishee instructions provided with the Garnishee Disclosure, form MC 14. Also available is a Guide to Garnishment of Periodic Payments.
Objecting to a Garnishment
If you have been served with a writ of garnishment and object to the writ, you may file an objection with the court using form MC 49, Objections to Garnishment and Notice of Hearing. Objections must be based on the one or more of the following:
- the funds or property are exempt from garnishment by law
- garnishment is precluded by the pendency of bankruptcy proceedings
- garnishment is barred by an installment payment order
- garnishment is precluded because the maximum amount permitted by law is being withheld pursuant to a higher priority garnishment or order
- the judgment has been paid
- the garnishment was not properly issued or is otherwise invalid
Filing a Request for Installment Payments
If you have a judgment against you and you want to make installment payments to pay off the judgment, and the only funds you have to pay the judgment are wages for personal work and labor, you can file with the court a motion for installment payments. There is a $20.00 filing fee. If you have other sources of income for paying the judgment, you cannot request installment payments.
A hearing on this motion is not necessary. The other party has 14 days from the mailing of the motion to file an objection to your motion. If the other party does not file an objection, the motion can be granted without further hearing.
A person may file an objection to a motion for installment payments. An objection must be filed with the court within 14 days from the mailing of a Motion for Installment Payments, form MC 15. There is no form for filing an objection.
If an objection is filed, the court will either decide the motion for installment payments based on the papers filed or notify the parties that a hearing is required. Unless the court schedules the hearing and sends notice, the party who filed the motion for installment payments must contact the court for a hearing date and send notice of the hearing to the other party.
If the court grants your request for installment payments, you are responsible for sending a copy of the order to the plaintiff. If a writ of garnishment was already issued and your employer is currently withholding funds from your earnings, you will also need to send a copy of the order to your employer. Otherwise, your employer will continue to withhold funds. See a copy of the Order Regarding Installment Payments.
Removing an Order for Installment Payments
If an Order for Installment Payments, form MC 15a, has been entered, a motion can be filed to set aside the order if the defendant fails to pay the installment payments as required in the order. Unless the defendant requests a hearing within 14 days after service of the Motion to Set Aside Installment Payments, form MC 16, the court can enter an order to set aside the order for installment payments without a hearing.
If the court grants the order setting aside installment payments, the plaintiff (the party who asked for the order) must send a copy of the order to the defendant. If the order reinstates a previously issued writ of garnishment, the plaintiff will also need to send a copy of the order to the garnishee defendant (defendant's employer). Otherwise, the defendant's employer will continue to suspend withholdings. See a copy of the Order on Motion to Set Aside Installment Payments.
The garnishee has 14 days after the Writ is served to let you, the court, and the defendant know if any money is available for garnishment. This information will be provided on form MC 14, Garnishee Disclosure. If you are trying to garnish wages, you will only receive part of the wages based on a federal formula.
If money is available, it will be withheld from the defendant right away. However, this money will be held for 28 days to allow the defendant time for objections. If there are no objections, the withheld money will be automatically sent to you after 28 days. If the garnishment is for periodic payments, money will continue to be sent to you as payments become due until the writ expires.